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Doncaster Rovers Belles 3 (Sweetman-Kirk 53, England 60, Smith 77) Durham Women 0
Second half goals from Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, and last season's joint top scorers Bethany England and Sue Smith, rounded off a comfortable 3-0 win for Doncaster Rovers Belles.
With promotion the clear aim outlined by manager Glen Harris, the Belles' patience was tested throughout the first half as they struggled to break down a Durham side who themselves are looking upwards after their positive end to last year.
Ashleigh Mills began brightly, causing problems down the right early on before the game's first chance fell to Sweetman-Kirk, heading wide from Sophie Barker's cross. Durham came into the game after a slow opening 10 minutes, Rachel Lee firing inches wide from the edge of the box.
Smith then went closer still for the home side, poking just wide from close range. Just before the break, the biggest chance of the first half came, Emily Roberts, making her home debut, drove at the Durham defence and struck a rasping effort against the bar.
Durham began brightly in the second half with Amelia Pereira causing the Belles problems throughout with some silky play in the middle of the park.
However, it was the Belles who opened the scoring when the persistence of Sweetman-Kirk paid off. The striker continued her good form, hassling the defence before rifling the ball into the top corner from close range.
A second followed shortly after, a ball over the top should have been dealt with by the Durham defence but England had other thoughts, nipping in between defender and keeper and lofting the ball over Alderson into the net.
Fresh from her friendly goal against Liverpool at the weekend, Kasia Lipka saw an effort flick over the bar as the Belles pressed for more. Former Belles player Jemma Purfield was threatening for the visitors on the break, hitting an effort just over the bar after seeing a header go the same way.
Pereira struck a half volley over Nicola Hobbs' bar as Durham tried to find a way into the game. But, last season's joint top scorer Smith sealed the points with fifteen minutes to go, curling a delightful effort past the outstretched Alderson.
With the three goal advantage came the confidence and Harris' side comfortably kept Durham at bay to come away with the three points and a clean sheet as they head towards the big FA Cup tie with Manchester City on Sunday.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Nicola Hobbs, Ashleigh Mills, Lauren Cresswell, Leandra Little, Rhiannon Roberts, Kasia Lipka, Reanne Thomas, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Sophie Barker, Beth England. Subs: Hope Knight, Sophie Stamp, Samantha Tierney, Lyndsey Cunningham, Danielle Hill, Molly Johnson.
Durham Women: Helen Alderson, Ellie Christon, Jemma Purfield, Jennifer Jennings, Julie Nelson, Sarah Wilson, Beth Hepple, Emily Scott, Rebecca Beech, Rachel Lee, Amelia Pereira. Subs: Jordon Atkinson, Jess Clark, Victoria Linsley, Anne Moorhouse, Lauren Jordinson.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
Photos by Julian Barker:
(top) Courtney Sweetman-Kirk scores the opening goal
(bottom) Sue Smith curls home the third goal for Doncaster
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